Somali students hear anti-violence message

After a wave of shootings has taken the lives of several Somali men, local Somali students listened to a message of non-violence Wednesday at the University of Minnesota.

The event was religion-heavy, with skits by local youth about spending Friday night at the mosque instead of on the streets. Local man Neelain Muhammad, a former gang member, talked about how Islam changed his life.

About 150 Somali students from local high schools gathered at the Student Center at the U's St. Paul campus. The event was organized by five college students, one of whom is the cousin of one of the Somalis recently slain, as well as the Da'wah Institute in St. Paul.

Former gangsta rapper Mutah Beale, also known as Napoleon, talked about his life as part of Tupac Shakur's Outlawz, as well as his conversion to Islam. He urged youth to turn away from violence, and said that the Qur'an addresses everything he's experienced in his life.

"You might get away from the police," he told the youth, "but you're not going to get away from Allah." Napoleon also had a message for youth who might shy away from visiting a mosque or an imam if they've engaged in criminal behavior. "It's never to late to turn back to Allah," he said.

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